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Paul Sabin

Alumni Leader Spotlight

Paul Sabin

Sports Data Scientist, ESPN

I had experienced academics and internships for the federal government but when the opportunity to work in sports analytics came up, it was something I could never pass up. Sports and math have always been interests of mine and it has been a dream come true to work on math problems every day in sports and to see my work daily appear across all of ESPN television and digital platforms. I work on the ESPN Analytics team building models that drive our coverage such as the Basketball Power Index (BPI) and the Allstate Playoff Predictor for the College Football Playoff. I got my PhD in statistics from Virginia Tech and am a proud father of 5 wonderful kids.

 

 


How Virginia Tech equipped me for the 'real world'...
The cross department collaboration run by the statistics department, that required me to work with and help the research done in other disciplines across the university taught me to be flexible enough, and know I could work to solve problems I had never seen before.

Best part of being a Virginia Tech alum...
The instant natural connections to other Hokies I meet for the first time. That, and also knowing how to answer the question, "What is a hokie?"

The last time I ventured out of my comfort zone...
I was reminded that in general most people are good and want to help. We all consider ourselves to be parts of varying groups in life, but despite whatever differences we have with others, most people want to help others around them succeed.

Top of my bucket list...
Visiting all 7 continents. 3 to go.

Favorite way to end the day...
Watching 20 minutes of a comedic show to decompress.

If you had to pursue a completely different field of study (not adjacent) what would it be?
Linguistics. I loved learning French and am fascinated by the different cultures and evolutions of language. Plus traveling is better when you can speak the foreign language.

If I had a superpower, it would be...
Flying

Fondest Virginia Tech memory or tradition...
Running the 3.2 for 32 - I was a senior in high school in the spring of 2007 with many friends who were freshman at Virginia Tech at the time.

Words of encouragement to a current Virginia Tech student...
Feeling overwhelmed while learning subject matter isn't a reason to get down and self-doubt. The worst test scores I ever received are in subjects I am now considered an "expert.” Those setbacks put you in the company of the most brilliant people in the world. No one has ever invented or become an expert without a decent amount of failure along the way. The brightest days are ahead.

A cause I'm most passionate about...
Providing the best resources, tools, experiences, and opportunities to every single kid out there. Kids are often overlooked in society because they aren't old enough to speak up for themselves and don't vote, but are the most important group of people to take care of in the world. Many suffer silently due to situations they had no control over being born into.

Biggest misconception about my job or industry...
I know all the "stats" about sports or I look up things like "the last time this team had this situation it did this" type facts. I build models and try to separate signal from noise in vast amounts of data we have in all aspects of sports.

A key habit, practice, or skill, that's important for success in my industry...
To be a critical, skeptical thinker. Many accepted ways to see a problem or a solution have not been revisited in the face of newer and better information and data.

 


Media Contact:
Lindsey Haugh (540) 231-6959
lhaugh@vt.edu